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Hozier at the Fillmore, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

» See more SOUND CHECK

Andrew Hozier seemed set up for a sophomore slump that did not happen.

The Irish singer-songwriter set a high mark with his double-platinum 2014 debut album "Hozier," including the massive, Grammy Award-nominated hit "Take Me to Church" which won a Teen Choice Award" and a Billboard Music Award for Top Rock Song. It was the kind of big start that seemed destined for a fall.

But Hozier, 29, came back strong with his sophomore set "Wasteland, Baby!" Released in March it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and in his homeland. The album features a soulful collaboration with Mavis Staples on "Nina Cried Power," and it's sent him back on the road, where Hozier is taking his audiences to his unique church every night...

* Hozier says by phone that he tried "to keep my head out of feeling the pressure" of following up his first album's success. "You make enough pressure for yourself -- that's outside of what pressures you might feel from other people, what other expectations people might have. I just wanted to make music, to make sure I was writing music that I wanted to hear being written and songs I wanted to hear being sung. I can't do more than that."

* Hozier composed the songs for "Wasteland, Baby!" back home in Ireland, in a countryside bungalow and getting himself grounded again. "I was touring for about two years, so I took some quiet time and decompressed. I was eager to connect with real life and what was going on in the world. Touring is a bit of a bubble -- every enjoyable, but kind of like Groundhog Day, for the most part. I wanted to be part of the rest of the world again."

* Hozier also paid a lot of attention to the news, and the impact current events and the state of the world can certainly be heard on the new album's songs. "I really started poring over news sources and plugging into the 24-hour news cycle -- which in a lot of ways was a terrible idea. (laughs) There's this kind of feeling that tensions are mounting and breaking and there's a doomsday clock moving forwarded. There were UN reports on climate change, Brexit, what's going on in (the U.S.)...some of those things and that language crept into (the songs). It was unavoidable, really."

* On "Nina Cried Power," meanwhile. Hozier connects himself with the lineage of protest commentators such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the Staples singers, and he's still pinching himself about having Mavis Staples guest on the song. "It was amazing working with Mavis. Her work and life embodies the life Im trying to write towards. I was trying to write a song that was as uncynical and hopeful and nods to all these amazing artists in the 20th century who reflected their times and wrote honestly and reflected their heart -- and did so quite bravely. I just wanted to look at that type of legacy and that spirit of singing and writing songs. I think Mavis is an incredibly brave artist and important artist, and I'm so grateful go have gotten the opportunity to work with her."

* Having "Wasteland, Baby" debut at No. 1 was "a pretty awesome moment" for Hozier. "I was in New York at the time doing some promotion. I had members of my label around me, which was really, really nice -- we actually all found out together while we were having a bite to eat on my last day in the city. I was over the moon. It wasn't something I was expecting so, yeah, totally over the moon."

Hozier and Bailen perform Tuesday, May 28, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are sold out. 313-961-5451 or thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

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